Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Is Humility a Virtue in the Context of Sport?

The short answer is yes. The long answer can be found in my latest paper, now published by the Journal of Applied Philosophy and available online at this link:

Here's the abstract:
I define humility as a virtue that includes both proper self-assessment and a self-lowering other-centeredness. I then argue that humility, so understood, is a virtue in the context of sport, for several reasons. Humility is a component of sportspersonship, deters egoism in sport, fuels athletic aspiration and risk-taking, fosters athletic forms of self-knowledge, decreases the likelihood of an athlete seeking to strongly humiliate her opponents or be weakly humiliated by them, and can motivate an athlete to achieve greater levels of excellence in her sport. In the context of team sports, humility can contribute to an athlete being a better teammate, foster unity amidst diversity within a team, and contribute to the overall moral and athletic excellence of a team. I also argue that an individual who is truly the world's greatest athlete can know and communicate this truth, while remaining humble.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review of Virtues in Action

See a review of the book here:

You may need to use the Google translate button at the top of the page, as the review is not in English.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent for the Sake of Character

The top 100 things that Twitterers are giving up for Lent in 2010.

For many Christians around the world, Lent is important for their progress in the spiritual life. They either give something up, or take on some new discipline or practice during the season leading up to Easter and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. I've noted a trend, which overall is a good one, of using Lent not just to "give something up," but to do something positive or proactive. Here I want to discuss why giving something up for Lent is still appropriate, important, and potentially effective for one's moral and spiritual growth.

Some Christians are skeptical of Lent. They may think that the self-denial practiced by many during this season is an empty form of asceticism (Colossians 2:16-23). Some do approach it this way. I can recall a time when I was much younger that self-denial during Lent was a fairly meaningless practice for me. However, if we are intentional about it, giving something up for Lent can be a demanding, enriching, and morally/spiritually significant experience. It can be a way to put into practice the teaching of Romans 6 by presenting our bodies to God for the sake of moral and spiritual growth. Paul's thinking in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 is also relevant here, as Lenten self-denial is a way of practicing and cultivating self-control.

Recent work in psychology supports the idea that we can cultivate and strengthen our capacity for self-control. We can think of self-control as a muscle. On this way of thinking, each of us has a finite amount of willpower. It depletes as we use it. But over the long-term, a muscle that is consistently exercised increases in stamina and power. Fortunately, the same is true of self-control.

So by giving up chocolate, sweets, alcohol, or social media for the 40 days of Lent, we can increase our powers of self-control and then exercise those powers in other realms of life where perhaps we struggle with such control. We can also be more creative about what we forsake during Lent. A friend of mine once gave up worrying about the future, for example.

Acts of self-sacrifice and self-denial can be fruitless, but they can also be very effective ways of cooperating with God in our moral and spiritual growth. We are constructed with a nature that enables us to participate and contribute to our own growth in this and many other ways. It is up to us to make use of these God-given powers in positive ways, and the traditions surrounding the season of Lent provide us with an excellent opportunity to do so.